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  • tilapia10 September 2002
    Outstanding English-language effort by the great Swedish actor/director Mai Zetterling (anyone who have seen her brilliant Night Games will agree she kicks Bergman's sorry ass!).

    Although the video box art tried to sell it off as a cheap Women-In-Prison-exploitation flick, it is really serious stuff. As other commentators have pointed out the film share a lot of similarity with Alan Clarke's grim masterpiece Scum, even sharing the same screenwriter. The main difference is that Scrubbers takes place in an all-women juvenile prison, making it both a great complement to Clarke's film and an interesting study of the differences of the sexes in the patriarchal society. Didn't sound that interesting, did it? Well, it really is when you think about it! For instance, how do the girls behavior to one another differ from the boys? How do girls backgrounds, views of themselves and reason for inprisonment differ? What issues do the girls from Scrubbers lack, that the boys from Scum has to deal with, and vice versa. It's really interesting.

    The film is well-acted, well-scripted, thought-provoking and unpleasant. A must-see if you like your movies hard and unembellished. 8/10

    NOTE FOR NON-ENGLISH VIEWERS: I saw a non-subtitled copy Scrubbers, and although this usually is no problem for me, in this case I had some trouble understanding parts of the dialouge. My American-born girlfriend had the same problem. Unless you've majored in ugly working-class English, local swearwords or prison-jive I would advise to see a subtitled version.
  • I saw this expecting the typical WIP exploitation. Unfortunately it is a story told with a bleak reality and stark setting. I also hate to say this, but the girl whose child is in a convent , is so obnoxious that all we wish for is to have ill fall upon her. Yes she is also included in the worst slow motion sequence ever filmed. It looks like the girls were moving slow while filming at normal speed to get the action right then it was going to be sped up to look a vicious beating in real time. Someone forgot yo speed up the sequence and it looks like my kids playing super heroes in the back yard moving in super slo-mo. Actually my kids have better " mad skills". Yet I digress, on with the positive... This is a pretty good movie with solid performances with a few interesting story lines. The most exploitive part is that all the girls are attractive and obviously haggled up for their roles. I gave this a 7 because it was earnest and is not " Prison a go go, or reform school girls, but if you want to watch women's OZ, then this is your flick.
  • Caught this years ago at a Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. They showed it along with "Scum" which dealt with the horrors of teenage male prisoners in England. This deals with women in prison.

    The film focuses on two women who escape--one (Annetta) wants to visit her baby daughter who is being raised in a convent. The other (Carol) wants to be recaptured and sent to a prison where her girlfriend is. They're both recaptured but Annetta wrongly assumes that Carol ratted on her. Then they're both sent to the same prison and Annetta seeks revenge. It all leads to a depressing ending.

    Grim and brutal. There's no humor and no letup in the tension. All the actresses are (pretty obviously) too old to be playing 20 year olds but their acting is so good I was able to ignore it. Worth catching. Trying seeing it with "Scum" which is even more disturbing.
  • You may be expecting this to be Scum, but for women. You've rented the wrong movie. I had a few hangups with this one. For most of the part I was really trying to make sense of the film. I really expected this to be heavy, scary, full on, but No. Even the top dog, who ends up leaving the joint, isn't really bad, probably a little bad in the discreet way. The plot has two girls escaping, one, a bi mother who wants to collect her baby who's been taken from her, and the other girl, Carol, her lesbian lover just wants to get caught. When the two end back in the clink, the bi mother later, the story kind of becomes like in Bad Boys, where the bi mother is p..ed off at Carol, who thinks she dobbed her in, but it's Carol who then becomes pi..ed off because her returned cellmate has shacked up with a new bird. Funny as it's gonna sound, the high point of this film, is that prisoner's singing where she just won't shut up. You hear her a few times, through the film. Scrubbers is depressing, yes, but it just falls short on a lot of things. It's a too ordinary film, a big problem here, where it's plot has started from anywhere, and has left off at the end, as if half story, if you can relate to what I'm finished. It just didn't have a solid discipline of story. Scum stayed with you. This is more forgettable. A scrubber is a term for a low class of English woman.
  • I saw this film on cable recently and remembered how bad it was the first time I saw it.

    The story is about female delinquents locked up in an English borstal in the early eighties.

    This film blatantly 'borrows' from the film Scum with Ray Winstone and I mean blatant - there's the cut-wrist suicide from one of the more unstable inmates, the hard-nut - Eddie (who replaces Scum's Ray Winstone), and the scene where an attack is made in a deserted part of the compound with a steel bar - Scrubbers version features a slow-motion sequence which is obviously faked!

    The only reasons for watching this garbage is to see early roles from Kathy 'I'm smoking a fag!' Burke from the 'Harry Enfield Show', Robbie Coltrane and 'Pat' from 'Eastenders'. As well as many a naked pair of breasts - which make the movie watchable - just.

    Verdict - One for the lads.

    Oi Oi savaloy!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Mai Zetterling's Scrubbers certainly feels sociologically and humanly scrupulous, examining the fraught community within a female borstal while largely avoiding swaggering stereotypes and easy titillation. The recurring use of bawdy folk-type songs is just one suggestion that for all its forced unnaturalness, the world that the inmates craft for themselves may preserve English community and culture more fully than what lies outside - by comparison the portrayal of the staff is mostly clipped and sparing and deliberately disconnected. Zetterling seems most artistically stimulated by the environment's inherent abstraction, triggering the film's most unexpected impact, its outbursts of visionary Kubrick-like strangeness. That would be both Kubrick past (a dispossessed mother's dreams of her kid might almost have slotted into The Shining) and even - relative to the film's 1982 release date - Kubrick future: the prison might well share a designer and all-seeing cinema-eye with the dorms of Full Metal Jacket. Just as in Jacket, the rituals and tasks (such as assembling cheap plastic dolls) of the institution barely contemplate the chaos of the real world battle to come - the institution seems in no way to provide a meaningful response to the transgressions of its two main protagonists (one can only think of being reunited with her infant daughter; the other was motivated primarily by apparently unrequited love for another inmate), whether as punishment or rehabilitation (a more conventional but still well-handled vignette has one of the tougher inmates released into a world for which she's entirely unprepared). It follows that the film withholds any kind of closure, leaving the prospects of its key characters uncertain after a final disorientating plunge into the outside world, ending on a recurring exterior nighttime shot that eavesdrops on the inmates as they yell out their goodnights and other parting shots for the day. This device may seem to evoke The Waltons of all things, but it's certain that nothing else in the movie will.
  • The lesbian Carol Howden (Amanda York) and the troublemaker Annetta Brady (Chrissie Cotterill) escape from a reformatory for different reasons: Carol wants be arrested again and to go to Borstal, where her girlfriend is imprisoned, and Anneta wants to see her daughter in a foster house. They both are sent to Borstal, a prison for young women, where the whole story takes place. Annetta blames Carol for their new arresting. This English movie has a good performance of the cast. However, the characters are so badly developed that we, viewers, do not know the reasons and the motives why the women are confined in such a place. Their accents are horrible and the story has nothing different or special comparing with other movies of this theme. Watchable and forgettable. My vote is six.

    Title (Brazil): 'Aonde Nasce o Crime' ('Where The Crime is Born')
  • As everyone seems to have noted SCRUBBERS seems to be nothing more than SCUM made for a female audience . The structures are very similar ( Hardly surprising since SCUM author Roy Minton co-wrote this ) with a relatively thread bare plot getting in the road of episodic incidents . Even the fact that we see British TV stars like Robbie Coltrane ( More or less unrecognisable in a small role ) , Kathy Burke ( As Waynetta Slob ! )and Pat Wicks from EASTENDERS ( Before she met Frank Butcher ) make comparisions with SCUM inevitable

    But when all is said and done this a very poor follow up to SCUM mainly because of three reasons

    1 ) The poor acting . Despite being a low budget movie the cast of SCUM at least played their parts with intensity especially Ray Winstone . There`s no such acting tour de force here and if memory serves me right much of the acting is plain awful

    2 ) There`s no real stand out scene as in SCUM that people discuss like the scene in the greenhouse . There are slightly sickening scenes like the puppet show but they`re unconvincing and seem written in to shock a blase audience . Mind you could say the same with the greenhouse scene in scum so I don`t know if it`s a valid criticism

    3 ) What is a valid criticism is that there`s no great lines to qoute in SCRUBBERS . Try discussing SCUM without saying " Where`s yer tool ? " or " I`m the daddy now " or " You want f***in` stripping ? "

    A needless and inferior follow up to SCUM probably made to cash in on the success of the 1979 film which became a massive hit on video round about the same time
  • This is a film from the much respected Mai Zetterling and to be honest its clearly not one of her better efforts. We have all seen girls in prison/reform school type of films before and while the gritty atmosphere of the film is effective its still very familiar and bleak. I would have appreciated more of an effort to understand these girls instead of just having the characters put in situations and then watching them react. We know very little or nothing at all about most of these girls. I was interested in the two characters Carol and Eddie and I wish they had a script with a little more sharper vision to it. There is one scene that shows two girls fighting and it was in slow motion. Why is that one and only scene in slow motion? No reason for it. It looked very badly staged. English viewers will recognize a lot of the actress's in the film while Americans will probably only recognize Robbie Coltrane in an early effort. Film just didn't have an original angle in the way it was presented. To bad, some really talented people were involved in this production.